From casting in his bedroom, to playing the guitar at the LCS studio, this is how Raafaa earned his promotion to the LCS.
From the hopes of becoming a professional player, to now becoming one of the voices of the LCS, Marc Alexander "Raafaa" Arrambide's journey can only be described as exhilarating. It was a passion that started out in his bedroom—a dream of one day being able to cast in one of esports' biggest leagues.
Who is Raafaa and what will he bring to the LCS?
Raafaa has always been one for storytelling and making the fans connect with the players on a more emotional level. The caster emphasised his passion for telling the stories of the players in an introduction to us, and hopes to make the audience fans of those players too.
"Hola! I’m Raafaa, a Peruvian-American from Utah. I have been a fan of League of Legends for 10 years, casting it for five years. I honed my craft while being a voice for amateur leagues, collegiate, academy and even Wild Rift Esports.
"Before casting I was a musician, playing guitar/bass and singing in multiple bands, so you know my musical talents will find its way (alongside many other skits and segments pitched) into the broadcast. My biggest strength is player narrative and passionate storytelling: When I get to know someone and their journey, I will make you become a fan of them."
During his time in the collegiate and academy scene, Raafaa would constantly entertain the fans with funny sketches and musical performances. Raafaa stated one of the highlights of his career thus far was performing Silver Scrapes at the LCS studio.
The moment Raafaa received the call from LCS
People react differently to hearing incredible news. Some remain calm and composed and focus on the next goal in life. Some are overwhelmed with excitement and will let the world know it. For Raafaa? it was somewhere in the middle.
Raafaa described the journey both before and after he found out he was joining the LCS as a "ride." The young caster first was contacted by Riot two weeks after the conclusion of the League of Legends World Championship to discuss his plans for 2023.
"Oh god it was a ride [laughs] I gave them the earliest time possible to meet just to get it over with. I couldn’t sleep at all that night, so when we met the next day, I bluntly said “I appreciate the time you are setting aside for me, I want to know what this is about.""
"When LCS first reached out to me to chat about my plans for 2023, I fought internally to not get my hopes raised in case of disappointment," said Raafaa. The internal fight paid off, with the LCS informing Raafaa he would be joining the LCS as the newest play-by-play caster.
Raafaa's celebration was movie-esque. Starting out with silent emotion that soon turned into a euphoric scream. His dream had become a reality.
"I couldn’t believe it, you know? I almost just nodded my head as I understood but it finally dawned on me and I just got really emotional [laughs]. It wasn’t until after we discussed other things about my new role, agreed to meet again after Thanksgiving and hung up, that I turned on Welcome to the Black Parade by My Chemical Romance and just yelled to my heart's content, tears in my eyes “We f**king did it!”"
Raafaa's learnings which got him to this moment
Raafaa has journeyed through various tiers of the League of Legends ecosystem while on his way to the LCS. Casting in the North American Collegiate scene, LCS Amateur, LCS Academy and many more. Another scene Raafaa made his name in was Wild Rift esports. He was one of many casters that attended Wild Rift Icons, the esports equivalent to Worlds.
Raafaa spoke to us about what he learned about himself and the type of caster he wanted to be through the various journeys in the North American ecosystem.
"Each of these places gave me different things to learn. In collegiate, the level of play is not as high as let’s say LCS academy let alone LCS, but the heart shown in their play is just as infectious, if not even more. Therefore, the first valuable lesson I learned as a caster was, it’s not about me, it’s about the players."
"My duty is to get to know them and tell their stories in whatever entertaining and accessible medium possible. I carried that lesson forward once I got into Academy, and eventually wild rift where I would spend time reaching out to players and coaches, and even engaging with the respective communities to understand everyone else’s walks of life."
"In academy, I developed more structure to my storytelling, but also explored ways to deliver an engaged and entertaining cast without having to go to maximum energy levels."
Timing is everything
The journey to being an LCS caster is not an easy one. It is not the same as a professional player where multiple slots become open. For casting, it is an intense waiting game with only the patient reaping the rewards. A caster could have all the tools ready to go. Ready to become the next 'Phreak' but sometimes, the timing is more important than the ability.
When asked about the advice Raafaa would give to aspiring casters, timing is what stood out the most. Not to discourage emerging talent, but to educate them on the value of waiting for your opportunity, because it will come to those who have the heart to wait.
"Timing is key. This is the most important and most unfortunate reality. You can be extremely talented, you could’ve done everything right by the community, and you could’ve carved out a brand, but the League of Legends space for casters is extremely saturated, and there’s only a small number of spots at the pro league."
"If you don’t make yourself virtually undeniable to the point where the entire global community is telling Riot ' hey, you need to hire this person immediately'. There’s no reason for someone to be brought up unless Riot decides it’s time to see change (or someone steps down and a spot opens up)."
"This industry is brutal. I’m extremely grateful that I had incredible friends and mentors I met along the way that pushed me to become better and supported me through the lowest moments in my career [...] For every triumph, there were a hundred failures, and in every failure was an opportunity to learn from that experience, and become a better version of myself."
The LCS returns on Jan. 26 with a rematch of the LCS Championship finals between Cloud9 and 100 Thieves.
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